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Rendezvous event celebrates Montana, McDonald history

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ST. IGNATIUS — History came to life in the Mission Valley last weekend during the annual Fort Connah Rendezvous. Known as the oldest building in Montana, the Fort Connah Trading Post was built in 1846-47 for the Hudson Bay Company Trading by Angus McDonald. With over 1,700 descendants, Angus McDonald’s immigration to America from Scotland in 1836 had a large impact on the history of Western Montana. McDonald originally named the fort “Connen” after a river in his native Scotland but changed it to “Connah” to make it easier for locals to pronounce.

Al Williams, the great-great grandchild of Angus and Cathryn McDonald, and past president of the Fort Connah Restoration Society, believes the annual Fort Connah Rendezvous provides, “… an opportunity once a year to visit people and learn the history of Fort Connah and the McDonald family.” 

Event goers could step back into history by taking a Belgian horse drawn wagon ride, watch wool getting spun into yarn, observe black powder shooting demonstrations or participate in spear throwing or arrow shooting activities themselves. Organizers and participants alike wore period-appropriate clothing lending further authenticity to the living history event.

The Restoration Society’s goal is to grow the rendezvous event which began back in 1960 and Williams believes it is improving and getting bigger each year. Last year approximately 250 people visited during the Rendezvous celebration. This year there were eight vendors, more than they’ve ever had before.

Vendors bring a great variety of trade goods including several period-correct guns and this year a mountain cannon from Glencoe, Scotland. With an eye to purchase the $3,500 cannon, the Restoration Society would very much like to make it a permanent part of their historical site but haven’t figured out how to pay for it. Call Al at 406-546-5067 if you have any ideas or want to make a significant impact by purchasing and donating it to this impressive site.

Fort Connah is located at Post Creek on US Highway 93, 7-miles north of St. Ignatius. For more information or to schedule a tour call 406-644-2882 or go to:

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